According to an article published on the La Presse website this morning, it looks as though the Canadiens will indeed honour goaltending great Patrick Roy with a jersey retirement night, tentatively set for November 24 in a game against the Islanders. There had also been specualtion that it could also be held March 17 - St Patrick's day - prior to a game against the Rangers.
While there has been no official announcement as of yet by the Canadiens organization, rampant rumours eminating from the Bell Centre yesterday all but confirm a night for Roy is in the works. Canadiens owner George Gillett was reached by La Presse for a comment and politely declined, stating that the organization, as per policy, will not fuel the speculation until an announcement is made.
Gillett's official quote on the matter was "the subject of retiring jersey's is not something we comment on publically".
Raising Roy's #33 will be seen as a controversial move by some. The goaltender who left the Canadiens under the most shameful conditions, has left no fan indifferent since that fateful day in December 1995, when he left his crease in disgust. Several off ice incident have tainted his star since, but the Canadiens it seems, and rightfully so, wish to honour the goalie for his on ice accomplishments with the club.
An unnamed source in the story is quoted as saying that "the directors of the team are only concerned with Roy's on ice achievements, and are not preoccupied with anything that has gone on in his junior hockey coaching career.'
The one hundredth anniversary of the team makes for a proper occasion to bury the hatched, and bring Roy into the hallowed halls of Canadiens greats.
Admittedly, I have had issues and concerns about the retirement of Roy's sweater in the centennial year. I would never want to see a player honoured in controversy. I feel that would benefit no one - not the fans, the team, nor the player. Hopefully, what Roy brought to the team over 12 seasons is given greater precedence in the media - and fan's hearts - than the one game meltdown that brought on a decade of despair for Habs supporters.
The best way to deal with it, is to finally let it go. I'll be looking forward to the 24th of November, when Roy's crooked and cocky smile is joined by a teary gleam in his eyes. He'll have deserved many accolades that accompany the evening, as well as each barb tossed his way. I don't think he'd have it any differently.
When reached for a comment, Roy stated only that "nothing has been confirmed with me. It is the first I hear of it, although people ask me the question often. For sure, such a thing would be an immense honour."
Roy went on to say that everything has been cool between him and the Canadiens organization for quite some time. He mentionned that he would have enjoyed taking in some games in the past couple of seasons, but due to his coaching duties with the Remparts, scheduling was always a conflict. He named the Gainey and Savard sweater retirements, and Alexander Radulov's first game at the Bell as occasions in which he would have liked to attend had it not been for other committments.
In non centennial Roy news, there have also been whispers ( pardon the Eklundspeak! ) that number 33 may not be the only digit getting the heavenly heave to the Bell ceiling. La Presse speculates that Emile "Butch" Bouchard or possibly Toe Blake, may be the other number honoured this season.
The source also revealed that the Canadiens would be wearing four special retro sweaters while paying tribute to their past seasons. The first instance will come on November 15, when the Canadiens will don replica's of the 1915-16 season ( the last "CA adorned uni's, and the crest worn on the event of the team's first Stanley Cup win) in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The other named retro jersey night will occur on February 1 against the Bruins, where the 1912-13 red, white and blue barber poll stripes will get the historic treatment.
Seeing as there will be two others retro jersey nights, you could almost pencil in the original 1909-10 powder blue and white "C"'s being rolled out against the Canadiens oldest Ottawa Senator rivals, and perhaps the 1910-11 green maple leaf over a tricolore knit coming out sometime this season against the jersey it inspited - the Toronto Maple Leafs.